The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, after a 25-year record of kidnap and murder against Israelis, Americans and other Westerners, was dismayed to find the shoe on the other foot this week when Syrian rebels, including members of the Syrian Free Army, announced they were holding two separate groups of its members.
The first group of eleven was captured May 22 in a bus heading home through Aleppo from a pilgrimage to Iran. The second episode sent shock waves rolling as far as Tehran and the Al Qods Brigades command. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that still unidentified commandos, guided apparently by precise intelligence, this week commandeered a Hizballah vehicle driving through Syria and captured five top-ranking Hizballah officers. A sixth escaped. Upon reaching Beirut, he reported the officers were being held hostage by the SFA.
Despite the veil of secrecy clamped down on the episode, debkafile exclusively names the kidnapped officers as Ali Safa, a senior officer of Hizballah’s intelligence service and nephew of Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. (His father Wafiq Safa, head of the organization’s internal security agency, is married to Nasrallah’s sister.)
The abducted party also included Hussein Hamid, Dep. Commander of Hizballah forces in South Lebanon; Ali Zerayb, member of the Hizballah Jihad Council – the equivalent of its general command; Hassan Arzouni, chief of intelligence in the Bint Jbeil district bordering on Israel; and Aras Shoeib, head of training in the Beqaa Valley of E. Lebanon.
Our sources report the group was ambushed 15 kilometers west of Damascus after they left the Syrian military base of Al-Hame 4 kilometers from the Syrian capital. It is there that Hizballah maintains its heavy Scud D long-range missiles, as well as its Fajr, Zelzal and Fateh 110 rockets.
It is suspected at Hizballah headquarters in Beirut that the vehicle carrying the officers was tracked from the air and directions were beamed down to the abductors who waited in ambush.
Hizballah’s masters in Tehran were dismayed to find the core leadership of their Lebanese surrogate had fallen into hostile hands amid the international crisis befalling their foremost ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad – and practically under his nose.